The European Union and the United Nations on Wednesday strongly condemned the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American officials in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in the North African nation's eastern city of Benghazi.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said she was "deeply shocked by the despicable attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi." Condemning the attack "in the strongest possible terms," she expressed her deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and the U.S. authorities.
Ashton also called on the Libyan government "to take all necessary measures without delay to protect the lives of all diplomats and foreign staff working in Libya," and urged authorities "to work tirelessly to bring those responsible for these killings to justice."
Separately, the U.N. Security Council issued a press statement strongly condemning the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. The 15-member Council also expressed its deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the victims of "this heinous act" and to their families.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also decried the attack in the "strongest terms," and offered his condolences to the U.S. government and to the bereaved Libyan and American families. He also reminded the Libyan authorities "of their obligations to protect diplomatic facilities and personnel."
The EU and U.N. response came a day after Stevens and his three colleagues were killed on Tuesday night in an attack on the Consulate by heavily-armed Islamist militiamen apparently enraged over an American film ridiculing Prophet Muhammad.
News reports said they were armed with rockets and grenades. Video footage and photographs of the U.S. Consulate showed that the building was badly damaged in a blaze apparently triggered by artillery fire.
Late on Wednesday, President Barack Obama confirmed the deaths of the four U.S. officials in a statement saying: "I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi."
"No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation," Obama said later in remarks made with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the White House Rose Garden adding: "We will not waiver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."
The film that provoked the Libyans was produced by Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old U.S. citizen from California, and was promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Coptic Christian. Media reports indicated both men had anti-Islamic views.
After an Arabic-translated trailer of the film was posted on YouTube, Muslims outrage spread across the globe, with the worst rioting and demonstrations taking place outside the U.S. Embassies in Libya and neighboring Egypt. Notably, no casualties were reported in the Cairo protest.
Libya has been undergoing a democratic transition over the past year. The oil-rich North African nation held its first free elections in decades in July, since the ouster of dictator Moammar Qadhafi's autocratic regime in a NATO-backed armed rebellion last year.
Late on Wednesday, Libya's National Assembly (Parliament) elected outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu-Shakour as the country's next Prime Minister. He defeated Mahmoud Jibril, who served as interim Prime Minister following ouster of the Qadhafi regime, in a run-off by a narrow margin.
by RTT Staff Writer
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